The setting was the historic Stonebridge Mansion, a Georgian-style house at 681 Webb Road, in Chadds Ford, which had stood empty for several years in the wake of lagging home sales and a diminished number of buyers looking for a 25-room home, complete with columned balconies and butler’s pantries.
In May, the classic structure was returned to its former glory – and in some rooms, given a new contemporary slant to its former use as a country estate – when it was transformed as the first annual Oxford Arts Alliance Decorator Show House.
Tina Skinner, show organizer and managing director of the Oxford, Pa-based arts organization, was one of 25 workers, including interior designers, muralists, painters, and even a plaster specialist who re-created the home’s original ceiling medallions. A former editor at Schiffer Publishing, she brought an extensive background that included writing several decorating and show house books to the job of transforming the mansion.
Other seasoned professionals, whose work is shown on these pages, include the husband-and-wife team, Joe and Jane Norley of Dreamline Services, a full-service design and contracting firm based in West Chester; the furniture restorer Rose Valley Restorations; the Wayne-based firm Devine Designs; and children’s room designer and wall artist LouLou Marshall of LouLou’s Whimsicals, Inc.
Norley, a third-generation interior designer, chronicled the design adventures of many of the show house participants on her blog The Design Courtesan. In keeping with the mission of the Oxford Arts Alliance – to promote the region’s art and culture – Norley also brought together many of the local artists featured in my recent book, 100 Artists of the Brandywine Valley. They included the landscape painters Richard Chalfant, Laura Barton, and Robert Stack.
If you missed seeing this year’s show house make-over, don’t worry. The Arts Alliance is planning next year’s show house, thanks in part to the success of Stonebridge Mansion, which, opened on May 10 and drew more than 350 patrons. Hundred of visitors toured the show house during its May run.
For more information on the art alliance and to learn more about upcoming events, visit www.oxfordart.org.